24 May 2009

Chez Monet

Friday I ventured again outside the périphérique with my friend Rachel to see the beautiful house and garden of Claude Monet in the charming Normand town of Giverny. This post is mostly an excuse to show off some stunning photographs, which still do not at all capture the vibrancy of the real thing, but I will try to recount my lovely day in words as well.

After just a 45 minute train ride, we were
transported into the quaint and spirited region of Normandy. A pleasant (although hot under the beating sun) five-kilometer walk brought us into the delightfully pretty town of Giverny, home to Claude Monet from 1883 to his death in 1926. The tiny village swarmed with tourists, and we had to wait nearly two hours to enter the Fondation Claude Monet, the artist’s former home and gardens. The wait, however, was well worth it, and pleasant company helped to pass the time.

Once inside the gardens, we were overwhelmed by the colors and smells of rows and rows of beautiful and diverse blossoms. The flowers were each so stunning and lively; the colors were so vivid and striking. As the sun continued to beat down, we took shelter in the Japanese garden portion of the grounds. Bamboo shaded pacific paths besides trickling streams. Tranquility reigned in this iconic garden where Monet’s water lilies were found.

The colors of Monet’s house, especially the dining room and kitchen, were almost as vibrant as the gardens, although the crowd in the house made it a bit difficult to take it all in peacefully.
Throwing a final envious look over the full and flowering garden, we stopped by the bookshop for some postcards and headed out.

We visited Monet’s grave in a calm, little cemetery. Then we found a pleasant little field in which to enjoy our picnic before embarking on the heat- and sun-filled walk back to the train station and our ultimate ride back home to Paris.

In all, it was a lovely day and an unforgettable sight and experience. What a wonderful start to my amazing last weekend here in Paris.

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